To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson (1914 – 2001), this display presents original unseen photographs and material relating to her life and work, illustrated books and early first editions.
Image courtesy The Finnish Institute in London
Tove Jansson, an accomplished Finnish author and artist, had a life every bit as fascinating as her famous creations, The Moomins. Tove Jansson: Tales From the Archipelago draws an intimate portrait of the artist’s life on her private island in the archipelago of Finland, where she regularly spent the summer months with her life partner Tuulikki Pietilä and at her artist studio in Helsinki. Shot over a period of 60 years by her dear friend, renowned Finnish photographer C-G Hagström (b. 1940) and her brother, photographer, Per Olov Jansson (b. 1920), rare family photographs reveal a story of an extraordinary life.
Curated by Susanna Pettersson, Director, and Animaya Grant, Head of Events at the Finnish Institute in London, with the ICA.
‘What does it mean to make queer art now?’ Paul Clinton asks artists and writers Catherine Lord, Carlos Motta, Charlotte Prodger, James Richards, Prem Sahib and A.L. Steiner to respond.
Everything has changed and nothing has changed. Activists and theorists began using the term ‘queer’ in the early 1990s at a moment of political exhaustion. Representations of AIDS as a specifically gay disease made it necessary to challenge categories of sexual identity. There was also dissent from those who felt excluded from the gay rights movement on the grounds of gender presentation, race or desire. Queer was not simply an indicator of identity but a refusal of being identified, fixed and assimilated. Much art of the time also exchanged flag-waving affirmation for critique – take, for example, Glenn Ligon’s Notes on the Margin of the Black Book (1991–93), an appropriation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s homoerotic photographs of black men, annotated to isolate their troubling racial fetishism.
In 2014, politics once considered radical are now routinely taught on undergraduate arts courses, antiretroviral drugs are available to the lucky few and gay marriage is recognized in a number of countries. Yet, homophobia and transphobia persist. Though in some ways queer art might seem like something of an anachronism, recent shows and events in London – including ‘Keep Your Timber Limber’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, ‘Rasberry Poser’ at Chisenhale Gallery and ‘Charming for the Revolution’ at Tate Modern – as well as ‘Tom of Finland+Bob Mizer’ at LA MOCA, the number of sexually dissident artists in this year’s Whitney Biennial and a forthcoming exhibition on art after identity politics at M_KHA, Antwerp, all attest to a renewed interest in alternative sexualities and subjectivities in art. I asked a range of artists and writers to reflect on the current state of art drawn from queer culture.
Paul Clinton is editorial assistant of frieze, based in London, UK.
READ THE RESPONSES
From Style to Substance: Tom of Finland and Antonio Lopez
Part I Noon – 4p
Noon – Durk Dehner in conversation with Dominic Johnson Durk Dehner (Tom of Finland Foundation), and Dominic Johnson (Queen Mary, University of London) give a contemporary perspective of the context in which Tom of Finland was working, from his peers.
2p – From the Margins to the Mainstream Fiona Anderson (University of York), Adrian Rifkin, Gary Everett (Homotopia) and exhibiting artist Cary Kwok explore the appropriation of the imagery of marginalised queer sexual cultures into the more mainstream art world, via Tom of Finland.
3.15p – Philip Aarons in conversation with Raymond Cha In the context of the historical import of serial publications and printed matter in relation to the dissemination of queer culture, especially as an integral element of Tom of Finland’s early practice, Philip Aarons (author of Queer ‘Zines) and Raymond Cha discuss the recent second edition of Queer ‘Zines. Followed by a book signing.
Part II 4.30p – 6.15p
4.30p – Art vs. Illustration Paul Caranicas (Antonio Lopez Foundation), Colin McDowell (fashion writer, journalist and academic) and Susan Dray (London College of Fashion) consider the notion of art vs. illustration in relation to the work of Antonio Lopez.
5.30p – Screening of Antonio’s World
TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1967, Pen & ink on paper, ToFF Permanent Collection #67.14, © 1967 Tom of Finland Foundation
Part of Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper), this afternoon of talks and screenings centres on Tom of Finland and Antonio Lopez. Although the two had divergent artistic trajectories, both had roots in advertising and maintained a keen focus on fashion – this event will explore these ideas, as well as discuss the particular poignancy of each practice, from the context in which they were working to their enduring legacy.
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